LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– Plumes of black smoke that hovered over the central valley Saturday afternoon came from an abandoned building that caught fire. But when water was needed to put out the flames, it was not nearby.

The fire was reported around 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon in the former Kmart building (which closed in 2017) near Sahara and Mcleod. That night, Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Billy Samuels said it took extra time for nearly 80 personnel to put it out because the fire hydrants directly next to the emergency were “dead”.

Tuesday, a representative for the Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) confirmed to 8 News Now that they were not dead, but rather, turned off.

The manager for the property that the building sits on requested an “emergency shutoff” in May 2022 for “repairs”, the representative said. Typically, once the repairs are complete, the property manager is required to call and ask for the water to be turned back on, they said.

But, LVVWD records showed that call was never made. This week marks eight months since the initial request was submitted.

8 News Now counted six red fire hydrants around the building. Yellow fire hydrants are scattered outside the 11-acre property, but not conveniently located near the building.

LVVWD clarified that yellow fire hydrants indicate those that are publicly maintained by the district, while red hydrants are privately maintained, typically by the property manager. LVVWD annually maintains over 37,000 hydrants in unincorporated Clark County, and not the other “tens-of-thousands” of private hydrants, like those found near the fire.

Those who live or work around the aftermath are now fearing the next fire, and if there will be enough water to put it out.

Michael Barbosa lives directly behind the property and details crews shutting down street access to his neighborhood while they connected to fire hydrants there.

“The fire was close enough… if it had blown back this way, it could have sparked back to one of the houses,” Barbosa said while looking towards the neighborhood hydrant Tuesday afternoon. “What are you going to do then?”

Next to this neighborhood sits ACE Las Vegas, a screen-printing company. General Manager Dru Shaw said not much separated up to $50,000 worth of the store’s inventory and equipment from the blaze Saturday night.

“Even if help, emergency services come around to try and put it out, it might be delayed. The damage gets worse. I mean, it’s a recipe for disaster,” Shaw said inside his business Tuesday afternoon.

The LVVWD representative added that a small team maintains hydrants on a yearly basis. A representative from the Clark County Fire Department told 8 News Now that dry or dead fire hydrants are uncommon and reported “promptly” to the water district if found with improper water flow. 

A cause of Saturday’s fire has yet to be released